You would think since I’ve been running for so many years now that I would have run at least one Turkey Trot by now. I could see not running an 8k before because it’s not a common race distance, however. Like most places, there are many options for turkey trots where I live so why did I choose this one? Since I wasn’t able to run so many other races I had wanted to this year for one reason or another I was interested in this race in particular because they didn’t keep increasing the race fee as race day approached. It was simply about timing and money (like so many other things in life).
In true turkey trot fashion, the race was Thanksgiving morning and I didn’t register until the day before, when I also registered my daughter and picked up our
race packets bibs. Only people who had registered by a certain date in November (maybe the 9th?) were guaranteed race shirts but I was told to ask if they had any extras after the race. So race bibs in hand, (and nothing else), we were out of the running store and went back home where I continued prepping foods for Thanksgiving dinner the next day.
With a 9 am race start only ten minutes from my home, I didn’t know what to do with myself. I’m so used to being in another city for a race and having to figure out logistics on getting to and from the race that it felt strange. Although I did run a relatively local race in May, it was a night race and about 40 minutes from my house.
The weather on race morning was ideal for racing, in the upper 40’s, sunny, with no discernible wind. It warmed up quickly, though, and within an hour had warmed up to the mid-50’s. It was funny because I donned my fleece ear warmer headband, Turtle Glove mittens, Buff around my neck, long-sleeve shirt, and tights, while my hot-blooded daughter wore a tank top and shorts.
There was a one-mile walk mostly for young children but I saw many adults walking it without kids as well before the 8k started so they all finished around 8:50 and were handed yellow finisher ribbons (tiny, only maybe one inch by three inches). While we were standing by the start/finish area my daughter noticed the timing mat and how it was only on one small area. “Does everyone have to go over that mat at the beginning?” she asked. “Yes, that’s the timing mat. You know that,” I replied. “But it’s not very wide across. How is everyone going to fit through that?” she asked. Just then the announcer said, “Everyone from the one-mile walk has finished. We’ll play the national anthem then begin promptly at 9:00. Please let the elite runners go first. I repeat, please let the elite runners go first and everyone else go behind them,” just as a handful of 20’ish males and a couple of young-looking females gathered at the front of the group. There were 650 runners and walkers at this race (not including those doing the one-mile walk) so it wasn’t a small crowd.
The national anthem was played over a loud speaker (no in-person singer), the race announcer said something incoherent, and we were off! My daughter and I were fairly close to the start because you just never knew with her and I didn’t know if age group awards were chip-based or gun-based. She had whittled her 5k time down considerably during the recently ended cross country season but she had also been having stomach issues on and off for a week or so before the race. She had also never raced an 8k before and wasn’t sure about how to pace herself. “Do you treat it like a 5k and just hope you don’t burn out at the end or go slower for the first two miles then gradually speed up?” she had asked me a day or so before the race. I said probably the latter but since I also had never raced an 8k, I couldn’t really say for sure.
I had decided before the race to just go by feel. Given the fact that I had shin splints a few months prior and had to take some time off from running to let them heal, I hadn’t been able to get my mileage back up more than about 5 or 6 miles for my long runs and I hadn’t been doing any speed work other than maybe a couple of times the month before. I also knew the course was hilly.
Mile one was downhill and my fastest mile of the race. The next two miles had small rolling hills but were mostly flat. I slowed down to talk to my daughter briefly (she was struggling with nausea and was taking a brief walking break but said she’d be fine) and mile three was actually my slowest of all five miles. Mile four had a small downhill so I was able to pick up some speed then but for the final mile, we had to run back up the hill where we had started. By then my quads were tired and I just wanted to be done. I finished in 43:18, fifth in my age group. My daughter had been able to start running again and passed me sometime during the fourth mile. She finished in 42:47, ninth in her age group, even after walking for two minutes.
There were no medals for this race, only volunteers handing out water bottles at the finish. We had to walk back maybe a quarter of a mile to the local running store that was the main sponsor for the race for post-race foods and more water. There were cereal bars, bananas, oranges, and boxes upon boxes of Krispy Kreme glazed donuts. I picked up some water and an orange and passed on the donut. My daughter said her stomach still wasn’t “right” and she only wanted water. We went over to inquire about shirts and got the last two in our size. After snapping a few photos, we checked our results online (I love when they post them live) and knew we wouldn’t be getting any age group awards so we were on our way.
My daughter said we should make it a tradition to run this race every year. She’ll be going away to college next fall so it would certainly be a possibility when she’s in town for Thanksgiving break in the coming years. I know many other families run turkey trots together every year. I like the idea of going out and moving your body the morning before what is largely considered the biggest day of the year for eating, not that I think you have to “justify” what you eat, but it’s more along the idea of balance. I know I feel better when I can balance out some of the extra calories of the holidays with some outdoor activity, whether it’s running, walking, or hiking. Even more so, I love running with my daughter and that would be the real reason for starting a turkey trot tradition with her.
How many of you ran a turkey trot on Thanksgiving? Do you have a family tradition of running the same turkey trot every year or do you run one by yourself or with friends?